Autism advocacy backed by science has fueled significant social change as an emphasis on the higher-functioning end of the spectrum lessens the stigma of the diagnosis.
From funding decisions to scientific fraud, a wide range of societal factors shape autism research.
Individuals with autism use more brainpower in regions linked to visual perception, and less in those related to planning thoughts and actions, compared with healthy controls, according to a multi-study analysis published today in Human Brain Mapping.
Genetic syndromes associated with autism are increasingly being diagnosed in utero because of techniques that can identify subtle mutations in the genome. But the technology is ahead of the ethical debate on whether and how to inform parents about mutations with unknown effects.
Two children with Asperger syndrome have disruptions in the PARK2 gene — one child has a duplication in the gene whereas the other has a deletion — according to a study published in February in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.
A gene that regulates the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the brain could help explain why males are more susceptible to autism than are females, according to a study published in PLoS One in February.
The first study to look at mitochondria — the powerhouses of the cell — in postmortem brain tissue taken from children with autism has found significant abnormalities in their function in some regions of the brain.